In defence of grass

23 November 2010
The beginning of summer always means the start of that most mundane of garden chores - mowing the lawn, or as we think of it, harvesting the grass. We have quite a bit of open grass to harvest here and it does take time but despite what many others think of lawn or grass or turf or whatever you call it, we would not get rid of it. Here it's a vital resource that gives more than it takes.

Now let me say first that we never water our grass. We have more than enough natural rainfall to keep it growing. However, in times of drought here, our grass, even in the middle of summer, has stopped growing, and turned brown and crunchy. Grass is such a hardy plant, even when it looks dead and it hasn't been watered for months, it will come back to life when it receives water. We never fertilise it either, even with organic fertilisers. It gets enough nourishment from the pecked or cut remnants of grass that fall and decompose within the blades.

So what do we use our lawn for?
  • It gives our chooks a wonderful place to graze and therefore gives the eggs we eat a much appreciated boost of Omega three and six oils. If were to eat our chooks, their meat would also be rich in these oils. Grass is rich in Omega 3 and 6 and chickens will consume up to 30 percent of their daily food as grass if given a good area to range over.
  • When harvested by the lawn mower, grass gives us most of the green component in our compost heap. If we didn't have grass, we'd struggle to find enough bulk to keep the compost going.
  • It provides cooler air around the house than we would have with hard landscaping. All those pavers, bricks and cement that surround some houses make them hot in summer.
  • It reduces noise and dust around the house.
  • It absorbs carbon dioxide and produces oxygen, just the same as trees do.
  • It filters water runoff before it reaches waterways.
Grass is not the enemy. Over zealous care of grass and wanting grass to look like perfect lawn is not sustainable. But if you have small children, pets or chickens I'm sure you'll already be aware of the benefits of having grassed areas around the home. It doesn't have to be manicured perfection to be beneficial. Just let it grow with natural rainfall and I'm sure you'll be surprised how hardy it it. Then change your attitude towards grass. Even though it needs to be mown (or harvested) it is a productive crop that you can use for chook feed or as a soft place to fall.